Australia make history with Cup ‘miracle’
Australia have gone from almost certainly missing the World Cup Final to setting up a historic blockbuster again India on Sunday night.
It was another incredible fightback from Australia as the side claimed a five-run win over South Africa.
It was incredible the sides even made it onto the field after 30ml of rain reportedly fell on the ground, while rain throughout also threatened the result.
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After a wet and wild day in Sydney on Thursday, the rain stopped with enough time for the ground staff to dry the ground to get a game on.
Following in the footsteps of the Big Bash League Final, the World Cup semi would only rub salt into the wounds of the England team who were knocked out earlier in the day having not been able to get on the field.
While 20 overs were scheduled, the rain came down after Australia's innings of 5/134.
It left just 13 overs, with both sides needing to get through 10 each to constitute a game.
Australia got off to a lightning start, moving to 34 in 4.4 overs before the first wicket fell but after 10 overs, the game was in the balance at 3/70.
But when Ash Gardner was gone two balls later, it was worrying signs for Australia.
WICKET! 👆— News Cricket (@NewsCorpCricket) March 5, 2020
Things go from bad to worse for Australia - Gardner is caught behind by Chetty of de Klerk for a 2-ball duck. VC Haynes joins C Lanning at the crease.
AUS now 4/74 off 11 | #AUSvSA LIVE BLOG: https://t.co/Y2rQrSMTlv#T20WorldCup #CmonAussie #AlwaysRising pic.twitter.com/8BGQX9CAME
Trouble for Aust. Jonassen in early and Gardner down order has not worked, and no Perry behind them to rescue things. All on Lanning and Haynes #T20WorldCup— Daniel Brettig (@danbrettig) March 5, 2020
Australia rallied with captain Meg Lanning leading the way with a run-a-ball 49.
Lanning took Australia on her back as they rallied from 4/71 to reach 5/134 from the 20 overs.
But as soon as the teams came off for the change of innings, the covers went straight back on.
The delay wiped seven overs off the match with 13 overs needing to be bowled with 98 required for South Africa.
South Africa were on track early but Megan Schutt and Delissa Kimmence kept the South Africans quiet.
Schutt nabbed two wickets for 17 from her three overs, including bowling the penultimate over for just two runs until the final ball went for six.
It left 19 needed off the final over with Jess Jonassen taking the ball.
She only went for 13 runs, meaning Australia are through to a sixth-consecutive final in the most unlikely of circumstances.
What a game! No Perry but plenty of ticker. It’s a miracle a game got completed. #T20WorldCup— Luke D'Anello (@LukeDAnello) March 5, 2020
Couldn’t have played out more perfectly. Whole narrative today was about the weather & just getting on, rather than the anxiety about the result. They got there, as promised #T20WorldCup https://t.co/V7aLtZsDUD— Corbin Middlemas (@CorbinMiddlemas) March 5, 2020
Of the win, Lanning said it was a tense game right down to the end as "even the last couple of balls, you're not safe".
But after a first up loss and close match against Sri Lanka, Lanning said the team had to reset and take it at their own pace.
"It's really been about calming everyone down," she said.
"The first few games of this World Cup flew by so quick, we just needed to slow it down a little bit and play the type of cricket we wanted to. We were probably a little timid in the first two games."
A devastated South African captain Dane van Niekerk said she was "heartbroken for the team".
"It's emotional to see the ladies like that," she said.
"To come short every time is difficult. I just said, as a team, we win together and we lose together. We're not a team that blames anything or anyone. Unfortunately it wasn't our year and wasn't our day."
The result is perfect for organisers, who were hoping to sell out the MCG and break the world record for the highest attendance at a women's sporting event.
It was long believed that Australia would need to be there to have a shot at claiming the record.
ENGLAND DUMPED FROM SEMI AFTER RAIN
Any Sydney-siders looking out the window would undoubtedly believe Australia's hopes had been washed away by a flood of rain at the SCG.
Constant rain over the past two days has seen 25-30ml fall on the ground but SCG's curator Adam Lewis was always positive that if the rain stopped, it would be cleaned up quickly - similarly to the Big Bash League final.
Unfortunately for England, it didn't clear up until after the match against India had been abandoned.
The first semi-final was called off just after 4pm with the rain not looking like it would stop, meaning India go through to the World Cup final, while the World No. 2 team England won't even get a chance to fight for a spot in the final.
Commentator Isa Guha said the decision leaves you "with a sickness in the pit of your stomach".
After the tournament which has delivered close cricket throughout, Guha said it was an "anticlimax" on the penultimate day of the competition, which Mel Jones agreed with.
"This tournament has taken us through a rollercoaster of emotions right throughout and this is not the emotion you want to be feeling coming into the semi-finals," Jones said.
As for England, former skipper Charlotte Edwards said it was hard to take.
"I feel devastated for them so I can't imagine what that England dressing room is feeling right now," she said. "It's just not the way you want to go out of a World Cup.
"I've never seen rain like it today."
But while the second game was able to go ahead, the ICC rules stated there was no reserve day with Cricket Australia's hopes of a late allowance for an extra day was denied.
The lack of reserve day has been heavily criticised by some players, with England captain Heather Knight among those calling for the rules to change.
"If both semi-finals are lost it would be a sad time for the tournament," she told reporters on Wednesday.
"It's obviously going to be a shame if it does happen and I'm sure there will be a lot of pressure on the ICC to change that."
Similarly, former players and pundits savaged the ICC over the decision.
It comes after there was a reserve day during the men's 50-over World Cup, with New Zealand, who would have been knocked out without it, won their way through to the final.
No reserve days for World Cup semi Finals ... What a shambles ... !! #T20WorldCup— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) March 5, 2020
Not as surprising as ICC not scheduling reserve days for finals in the biggest tournament of the year and possibly lifetime for many players. Absolutely absurd.#commonsense— Mark Waugh (@juniorwaugh349) March 5, 2020
This is a dark day for women’s sport and the @ICC should be ashamed of itself. To not have a reserve day for a World Cup semi-final - and to then deny a request for one - is scandalous, reckless and plain stupid. I know the countries signed up for the rules but come on...— Mike Keegan (@MikeKeegan_DM) March 5, 2020
These women who have come so far progressing international cricket deserve better. This World Cup has descended into utter farce. What a joke when this was so foreseeable. Why wouldn’t you have a reserve day for weather?— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) March 5, 2020
Not that it’s any consolation but the men don’t get a reserve day in their T20 World Cup either. Reserve days are in operation in the 50 over WCs.— Elizabeth Ammon (@legsidelizzy) March 5, 2020
Imagine being out of a semi-final without a ball being bowled— ZENIA D'CUNHA (@ZENIADCUNHA) March 5, 2020
Imagine this happening with where hosts & defending champions Australia in the next game or If England, not India, were the table toppers in the first
How hard is it to have a reserve day for double headers, ICC? https://t.co/ztaF812vZg
- with AAP